LONDON (AP) — Actor Ian McKellen and 27 Nobel laureates have written an open letter urging Russia's president to repeal an anti-gay law and expressing their solidarity with critics of the legislation.
The letter — published Tuesday by the Independent newspaper — comes in the run-up to the Sochi Olympics, which have been the focus of a backlash in the West regarding the law.
Passed last year, Russia's law bans promotion of "non-traditional sexual relations" to minors and has prompted calls by gay activists and others for a boycott of the games, which begin Feb. 7.
McKellan — known to millions as Gandalf in the "Lord of the Rings" and "Hobbit" films — wrote the letter with his friend, chemist Harold Kroto.
They said the letter was written to show the scientific community's "solidarity" with politicians, artists, athletes and others who have already "expressed their abhorrence" over Russia's actions toward its gay citizens.
"Protest is never easy, but we hope that by expressing opposition to the new legislation it might be possible to encourage the Russian state to embrace the 21st century humanitarian, political and inclusive democratic principles, which Mikhail Gorbachev worked so hard to achieve," they said in the letter.